The Last Fine Time

Verlyn Klinkenborg

The Last Fine Time

Verlyn Klinkenborg

224 pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 1991
Paper $17.50 ISBN: 9780226443355 Published April 2004 Not for sale in the British Commonwealth except Canada
By turns, an elegy, a celebration, and a social history, The Last Fine Time is a tour de force of lyrical style. Verlyn Klinkenborg chronicles the life of a family-owned restaurant in Buffalo, New York, from its days as a prewar Polish tavern to its reincarnation as George & Eddie’s, a swank nightspot serving highballs and French-fried shrimp to a generation of optimistic and prosperous Americans. In the inevitable dimming of the neon sign outside the restaurant, we see both the passing of an old world way of life and the end to the postwar exuberance that was Eddie Wenzek’s "last fine time."
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Review Quotes
Washington Post
"The author evokes the old ways with such darting humor and restless trope-making that the moss of nostalgia has no chance to grow on his sentence structure."

Anne Tyler | Boston Globe
"Brings an era to life. . . . All at once, a small, bygone portion of America becomes so real that we seem to be not so much reading about it as drawing it forth from our own memories."

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt | New York Times
"Wittily lyrical. . . . The shining prose of The Last Fine Time radiates both in space and in time."

New Statesman
"Klinkenborg understands the power of images and of signs. His more objective research in the city library is impeccable and unobtrusive, and there are hints almost of Faulkner in his handling of a community’s origins and growth. . . . It is an astonishing achievement, one of the finest memoirs of recent years."

Reamy Jansen | Bloomsbury Review
"[A] lovingly poetic and gitty portrait of his father-in-law’s bar just outside Buffalo, before its death by thoroughway and sprawl."
Robert Wilson | USA Today
“The Wenzeks’ history joins what is finally the great American story, that of how the old world came to, and changed, the new. It’s a worthy subject for a writer of Klinkenborg’s talent, and he does it justice.”
Joseph F. Keppler | Seattle Times
“[Klinkenborg] has wrapped a profound social history around, of all things, a family-owned taproom in Buffalo, NY. Researching both the city and the family . . . Klinkenborg sensitively addresses the shifts in consciousness with passing generations. Men and women born during the baby-boom years will recognize their own parents in this poignant social portrait.”
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